Taking it all in stride

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Cougars track and field athlete Merissa Margetts enjoys being a member of the team

Jonathan Hamelin
Sports Editor

When observing many athletes, it is hard to tell if they are truly enjoying the sport they are participating in.     Regina’s Merissa Margetts, a member of the University of Regina Cougars track and field team, is an exception to that rule.

“[Merissa] always comes to practice with a smile on her face,” noted Cougars track and field head coach Bruce McCannel. “She’s a great teammate – she always cheers everybody on. She doesn’t mind working hard. She trained very hard all fall and still had a smile on. She loves track and being a part of the team.”    

For Margetts, a second-year faculty of kinesiology and health studies student, being a part of the Cougar team has been an enjoyable experience, even if it means suffering through grueling practices or competing every weekend.

“My favourite part of track is being with the team and cheering them on,” she said. “I remember last year going to Canada West and we were all cheering. It really pumps you up. I’ve noticed the team is really close this year."     Margetts has had every reason to be happy this season. After a respectable rookie season, she has easily avoided suffering through the dreaded “sophomore slump”. Margetts has registered several first-place finishes, broken a couple of records, and met the CIS standard for a few events.

“I’ve really surprised myself with my performance this year,” noted Margetts. “Coming into this year I knew I wanted to work my hardest. I wasn’t a rookie anymore so I had to step up even more and not be nervous.

“I never really expected to be breaking records and qualifying. It feels like all my hard work has been paying off. I know that the harder I work at it the better it’s going to get.”

The strong performance started right off the bat for Margetts, who competed at the U of R’s Friendship Games early in December. At this meet, Margetts finished first in the women’s 200-metre, posting a time of 25.71 seconds, breaking fellow teammate Amanda Ruller’s record of 25.8. At the dual matchup in Saskatoon against the Huskies early in January, which the Cougars lost 141-114, Margetts earned a first-place finish in the women’s 300m (40.19). The women’s 4X200m relay team, comprising Margetts, Ruller, Kelsey Bohachewski and Chelsea Valois, also placed first (one minute 43.38 seconds).

Margetts qualified for her first CIS event at the Golden Bear Open in Edmonton on Jan. 21, as the women’s 4X200m relay team posted a time of 1:42.13, breaking the U of R’s old record of 1:42.31. Margetts followed this up by placing third in the women’s 60m (7.77).

At the Downtown Lions Sled Dog Meet in Saskatoon late-January, Margetts finished first in the women’s 60m hurdles (9.07). At the Bison Classic in Winnipeg on Jan. 28, Margetts was second in the women’s 300m (39.14) and 4X200m relay (1:40.64), and third in both the women’s 60m (9.14) and 60m hurdles (9.16). She broke her own school record in the 300m and qualified for nationals in that event.

The fun continued for Margetts at the Queen City Kinsmen Indoor Classic, the final event before Canada West Championships, held last Friday in Regina. She won gold in the women’s 60m (7.79) and 60m hurdles (8.82), qualifying for CIS in the 60m hurdles.

“[Merissa is] somebody who’s contributing in all areas,” said McCannel of Margetts. “She’s running in a lot of races this and is ranked highly in all of them. She’s having a great season.”

Some of Margett’s success can be attributed to her relationship with fellow Cougar Tait Nystuen, a second-year science student.

“Me and Tait are really close,” said Margetts. “We went to high school together, trained together during all of Grade 12, and have spent summers together going to junior nationals and other events. We’ll talk to each other if we’re having problems or if we think something’s going wrong with our races. I think we kind of feed off each other in that way."

While Margetts has been a great fit to the Cougars organization, she almost didn’t join in the first place. Competing in track and field and Campbell Collegiate during high school, Margetts started taking things more seriously in her Grade 12 year and then a got a nudge in the right direction.

“The coach I had at Campbell, Jason Stewart, had been on the U of R track team around six years ago and he really enjoyed it. He contacted some coaches at the university for me,” said Margetts. “I met with Bruce and decided to join the team.”

This decision to join the team could culminate in a conference or national medal for Margetts, a feat that she did not accomplish in her rookie year. The first step is the conference championship, which starts on Feb. 25 in Winnipeg. The national championship is slated for March in Sherbrooke, Que.

“I want to score as many points as I can and place in the top six,” said Margetts, referring to the upcoming conference championship. “That will really help our team to maybe come home with a Canada West Championship. I know we can do it. If I run my best and run smart I should be able to medal. But everything changes on race day. [CIS] will be tougher, but I think our relay team could medal.

“I think the 300m is really going to go well for me this year. I’m not as fast in that 60m, but I have better endurance. There’s not many people who run the 300m super fast.”

As for the rest of the Cougars team, there is a lot of potential for medals at both the conference and national level. The team has had a handful of first place finishes this season, broken records and qualified many athletes for nationals.

According to McCannel, this success is nothing new.

“Typically over the last couple of years we’ve had a strong team,” he said. “Last year we had a number of records broken and this year we’re on course for even more records. Every year you want to keep improving the team and that’s what I think we’ve done this year. As a whole, our team is doing well this year despite competing in the competitive Canada West. Canada West has improved significantly from last year. For our guys and girls to be doing this well is amazing.”

 

Other standouts 

Chris Pickering
Personal: Third-year arts.
Events: Shot put/weight throw.
Notable: Ranked third in the country in shot put and has qualified for nationals in that event. Broke the school record in shot put at the Friendship Games and then broke his own record the following week during the U of S dual. 

Jeremy Eckert
Personal: Third-year Campion science.
Event: High jump.
Notable: Ranked first in the country in high jump and has qualified for nationals in that event. Broke the U of R’s high jump record at the Sled Dog Open and broke a 28-year-old Saskatchewan senior record in high jump at the Kinsmen Indoor Classic. 

Chelsea Valois
Personal: Fifth-year science.
Events: High jump/long jump/60m/60m hurdles/shot put/pentathlon/4X200m relay.
Notable: Ranked second in the country in long jump, seventh in pentathlon and eighth in long jump.  Has qualified for nationals in all three events. Part of the second-ranked women's 4X200m relay team that has also qualified for nationals. 

Connor MacDonald
Personal: Third-year art.
Events: High jump/long jump
Notable: Ranked third in the country in high jump and sixth in long jump. Has qualified for nationals in both of these events.

Amanda Ruller
Personal: Fifth-year faculty of kinesiology and health studies.
Events: 60m/300m/4X200m.
Notable: Ranked fourth in the country in the women’s 60m and has qualified for this event at nationals. Part of the second-ranked women's 4X200m relay team that has also qualified for nationals.

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